What is CVI?


Right Temporal Lobe

Flowing Multi-Layered Organic Experiences

The memory of the dog from the previous section is stored in the filing cabinet on our right side. The right filing cabinet contains memories that will help you to:

  • Recognise Faces
  • Recognise Facial Expressions
  • Recognise Routes
  • Recognise Locations

Imagine the experience of meeting the little dog in the park. The memory was not just a picture of the dog, although the picture (visual memory) would be the most useful memory in this recognition process.

The memory included the friendliness of the dog, the feel of the dog, the warm and friendly exchange with the owner, which would have made you feel happy.

These all formed memories, and when you see another Westie, without realising it, you recall all of these memories.

This is what is meant by a flowing, multi-layered and organic experience.

Recognising Faces

It is quite possible that whilst you could recognise another Westie after the initial encounter, you wouldn't recognise the owner you spoke to, unless they were with the dog in a similar place. Recognising faces is a complicated process. In the same way you don't form individual memories of every car that drives past you, you don't form memories of the face of every person you meet

Colour and style of hair, and tone of skin help the facial recognition process, equally any further features like the shape of the face, size of nose etc. Another key aid to facial recognition is location. You may chat regularly to a person working in your local shop, but not recognise them sitting next to you on the bus.

Can you think of examples where you haven't recognised someone you know? Maybe they changed their hair colour, lost weight or were seen somewhere unexpected. Facial recognition, like the Westie, is a flowing multi-layered organic experience. It is not a snapshot.

Recognising Facial Expressions

How is Jessie feeling from her facial expression?How is Jessie feeling from her facial expression?

Is Jessie definitely happy? Is Jessie definitely happy?

To confidently and correctly recognise the facial expression, more information is required, for example if they are someone you know (recognise), at a place or location you know (recognise), in a familiar (recognisable) situation.

Recognising facial expressions is the same multi-layered flowing experience. Problems with facial recognition can be mistakenly understood as a lack of empathy.

Recognising / Remembering Routes and Locating Things

When we think of a route the first thing that tends to come to mind is a map, but this isn't what a route is.

Think of a journey you regularly take, maybe to work, or school or the shops. Whether you drive, walk, cycle or take transport, just take a minute to go through that journey in your mind. Some things on this journey, maybe a bright garden, a shop window display or lovely old tree, draw your attention. Other things you won't have noticed. Your journey goes through physical space, it will have a distance, and there will be a time component. The memories formed from this experience are flowing multi layered and organic. Each time you go on the same journey the stronger the memories become from multiple experiences.

You recognise the route.

Now take a journey through your home. The experiences have been repeated so many times that the memories are very strong. Each home has hundreds of different things,all in different places. Some things are easy to recognise, especially things that don't move like the stove or refrigerator. Where things are put away, for example in drawers and cupboards, the experience and memory process is a little more challenging, because it is only reinforced when you actually go to that location, or think about it

Our ability to recognise where something is from our memory of where it is kept or where we put it, is our ability to find and locate things. It is formed from organic, free flowing multi-layered experiences.

Our right filing cabinet / right temporal lobeOur right filing cabinet / right temporal lobe


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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.